Which part of the cloud service solution lags all the rest in terms of performance increases? Yes, I’m looking at you, Networking. Where computer processing power and storage capacity increases by a factor of ten, networking performance only goes up by a measly two. That means that while compute and space inside the cloud are virtually unlimited for most customers, getting to and from the cloud can be a frustrating experience.
How to Handle the Networking Constraint
Dealing with networking has similarities with risk management. In general, there are four ways you can deal with a risk. You can accept it. You can mitigate it. You can transfer it. Or you can eliminate it. How many of these approaches can be applied to improving the network situation for cloud services?
- Should you accept it? If today’s networking gives you what you need, then yes, you can accept it. Beware however of changing levels of performance. Some well-known online backup solutions for example have been seen to ‘throttle back’ data transfer as the total volume to be transferred increases. In other words, performance gets worse and worse as you try to transfer more data.
- Can it be mitigated? If you can make better use of existing networking resources, you can hope for better performance. The Fast and Secure Protocol (FASP) from the Aspera Company offers improvement compared to the standard TCP Internet protocol. In addition, it’s smart. You can mix and match FASP and TCP on the same network links, and FASP will adapt to share out network bandwidth in an equitable way.
- How about transferring it? When a risk is transferred, it becomes somebody else’s problem. This works in insurance against fire or theft for instance, but does not translate readily into matters of network performance. If it’s your data and you need to move it back and forth for your use or your business, then it’s still your problem.
- Can it be eliminated? If you can do your cloud computing without having to use the network, then the network no longer becomes a problem. Fog computing, a concept from Cisco, minimizes global network traffic by processing and storing data locally. Aimed at dealing with the expected explosion in data from the Internet of Things, fog computing only sends select, critical data into the cloud. Another solution is to be cloud-based from the start. If all your data is generated in the cloud, processed in the cloud and stored in the cloud, the network is no longer part of the equation.
Which Networking Approach will Work for You?
The answer is of course, it depends. If you are starting a new enterprise, consider – literally – starting it in the cloud. There are many SaaS solutions to help you sell, ship, bill and support your customers. Today’s products are increasingly turning into tomorrow’s services, and a cloud-based approach has further advantages in facilitating business relationships and partnerships.
However, you may prefer an on-site solution for reasons of cost (think of a private cloud solution, for instance) or security, and use remote cloud resources for overflow requirements and backup. If so, network resource parsimony and smarter transfer protocols will be your allies, unless of course you simply choose to ‘grin and bear it.’